Portugal's capital, Andalusia, five nights in Morocco, cross the Straits of Gibraltar and visit the Rock, relax on the Costa del Sol, and marvel at Madrid's Prado.
Day 1 (Fri.) Board your overnight transatlantic flight.
Day 2 Arrival in Lisbon, Portugal. (Sat.) Free time to rest or start exploring the Portuguese capital. At 6 p.m. meet your traveling companions at a welcome drink hosted by your tour director.
Day 3 Lisbon. (Sun.) Now the capital of a small country on the western fringe of the Iberian Peninsula, Lisbon was the center of Europe’s longest-lived overseas empire. Portugal’s imperial ambitions date back to Prince Henry the Navigator’s 15th-century discoveries in West Africa and did not subside until the 1970s. History has left its mark on the city, in striking contrast with modern features. Morning sightseeing includes two Manueline jewels: Belem Tower guarding the estuary of the Tagus River and JERONIMOS MONASTERY with the tomb of Vasco da Gama. Drive past the Bull Ring to Pombal Statue and on along the grand Avenida da Liberdade. Then enjoy a walk through the cobbled alleys of Alfama, the quarter of the seamen. Afternoon and evening at leisure. An optional excursion to Sintra and optional dinner with Fado-style entertainment are available. (BB)
Day 4 Lisbon-Seville, Spain. (Mon.) On the way to Spain stop at Elvas, noted for a 16th-century aqueduct which still supplies this market town with water. Cross the border near the historic citadel of Badajoz and drive through Extremadura, the arid homeland of the conquistadors Cortés and Pizarro. Late afternoon arrival in the vibrant capital of Andalusia. (BB,D)
Day 5 Seville. (Tue.) Listen to your local expert’s account of the city’s role in Roman times, its conquest by the Moors in 712, its contribution to the discovery of the New World. Admire MARIA LUISA PARK. Drive to the Plaza de España, the Gold Tower on the Guadalquivir River, and the fine baroque building which is now the university but used to be the tobacco factory of Carmen fame. Visit the CATHEDRAL with Columbus’ tomb, the world’s largest Gothic edifice. Finally stroll through the narrow lanes of the charming Santa Cruz quarter. For a truly Andalusian night out, reserve a seat at our optional flamenco show. (BB)
Day 6 Seville-Rabat, Morocco. (Wed.) Through the sherry wine region of Jerez to Algeciras, and on by ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa. Along North Africa’s infamous Barbary Coast to Rabat, once a lair of the corsairs and now the country’s capital. (BB,D)
Day 7 Rabat-Casablanca-Marrakesh. (Thu.) Sightseeing focuses on the massive medieval battlements, the Royal Palace, MOHAMMED V MAUSOLEUM, Hassan Tower, and the Kasbah of Oudaias. You are reminded of the time when Morocco was the Roman province of Mauretania as you visit the fine ROMAN RELICS OF CHELLAH. Then leave Rabat and follow the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean for a lunchtime visit to Casablanca, Morocco’s modern seaport with a strong French accent. See the Hassan II Mosque, a splendid monument designed to mark the end of the century. Evening arrival in Marrakesh, situated in an oasis with more than half a million palm trees. (BB,D)
Day 8 Marrakesh. (Fri.) Guided half-day sightseeing includes MENARA PARK with its artificial lake and quaint pavilion; BAHIA PALACE; the elaborately decorated 16th-century SAADIAN TOMBS; and Djemaa El-Fna, the palpitating town center dominated by the 222-foot-high Koutoubia Minaret. Afternoon at leisure to catch up on your postcards or bargain hunt in the souks. Tonight an optional excursion not to be missed: the 30-horse fantasia and Moroccan feast "Chez Ali." (BB)
Day 9 Marrakesh-Fez. (Sat.) Enjoy glimpses of North African village life reminiscent of Beau Geste while motoring through Beni Mellal and Azrou towards Fez. Blessed with an ample supply of water and strategically situated, Fez became the capital of Morocco when the country shook off foreign rule under the Berber King Idris in the 8th century. To this day, Fez has remained Morocco’s spiritual and artistic center. (BB,D)
Day 10 Fez. (Sun.) Snap pictures of the magnificient entrance to the Royal Palace, drive through the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter, and travel on to beautifully ornate Bab Bou Jeloud, the traditional entrance to old Fez. Your local guide also leads you through the labyrinthine FES-EL-BALI, Morocco’s largest medina, to the exquisite MEDERSA ATTARINE. Enjoy a ten-mile drive along the panoramic Route de Fez, stopping at its best vantage point. Back to your hotel with time to relax. This afternoon you may want to sign up for an excursion to imperial Meknes. Tonight your tour director may suggest an optional folklore dinner at a typical Moroccan restaurant. (BB)
Day 11 Fez-Ceuta, Spain. (Mon.) Leave the imperial city heading north via Sidi Kacem and Tetouan, to tonight’s destination, the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, strategically located on the North African side of the Straits of Gibraltar. (BB,D)
Day 12 Ceuta-Costa del Sol. (Tue.) Board your ferry for the trip back across the Straits to Europe. Time for a visit to the strategic rock fortress of GIBRALTAR, in British hands since 1704. Hear about its turbulent history, see the Moorish Castle, and ST. MICHAEL’S CAVES. Also on the agenda, of course, the colony of Barbary apes. Then a pleasant drive along the elegant Costa del Sol to your hotel in Benalmadena. Dinner tonight is not included to give you a chance to sample the seafood restaurants for which the area is famous. (BB)
Day 13 Costa del Sol. (Wed.) A day at leisure to catch up on your postcards, browse through trendy boutiques, sample the many fancy restaurants, or simply relax. (BB)
Day 14 Costa del Sol-Granada. (Thu.) Away from the sea and into the mountains to history-steeped Granada. In the afternoon savor its main attraction, the ALHAMBRA. The mighty yet graceful citadel was planned by the 13th-century Moorish ruler Al Ahamar. A fantasy of "lace in stone" surrounded by arabesque gardens and fountains, it affords superb views of the Old Quarter and Sacromonte, a mountain occupied by gypsy cave dwellers. Also amble through the exotic WATER GARDENS OF THE GENERALIFE, the royal summer residence. (BB,D)
Day 15 Granada-Toledo-Madrid. (Fri.) Through the arid landscapes of Don Quixote’s La Mancha motor north to Toledo. Spectacularly situated on a granite hill surrounded by a loop of the Tagus River, the ancient Castilian capital attracts more sightseers from all over the world than any other Spanish town. A resident expert takes you to the Moorish bridge, an early SYNAGOGUE, the 13th-century GOTHIC CATHEDRAL, and the church of SANTO TOMÉ with one of El Greco’s most famous paintings. Don’t forget to visit one of the enticing Damascene steel workshops before leaving for Madrid. (BB)
Day 16 Madrid. (Sat.) The capital of Spain since 1561, Madrid today is a strikingly modern city, the showcase of a country resolutely turned towards the future. Morning sightseeing takes you to the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de España with its monument to Cervantes, the Parliament, Cibeles Fountain, elegant Calle Alcala and Paseo de Castellana. Then the highlight: a visit to the palatial PRADO MUSEUM with its priceless art treasures. The afternoon is free for last-minute shopping or for an excursion to El Escorial. Tonight maybe a special Spanish treat in one of Madrid’s famous restaurants to celebrate the success of a memorable tour? (BB)
Day 17 (Sun.) Your homebound flight arrives the same day. (BB)